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Carrie Rachel Brownstein (born September 27 1974), is an American musician and blogger for NPR Music. She is best known for being a guitarist and vocalist in the now-defunct Portland, Oregonmarker-based band Sleater-Kinney. In 2006 she earned a spot on Rolling Stone readers list of the 25 "Most Underrated Guitarists of All-Time" as the highest-rated woman.

Early life

Brownstein grew up in an upper middle-class home in Redmond, Washingtonmarker, and attended the The Overlake Schoolmarker. She began playing guitar at 15, and received lessons from future Sunny Day Real Estate/The Fire Theft frontman Jeremy Enigk. She later said "He lived in the neighborhood next to mine, so I would just walk my guitar over to his house. He showed me a couple of open chords and I just took it from there. I'd gone through so many phases as a kid with my interests that my parents put their foot down with guitar. So [the instrument] ended up being the first thing that I had to save up my own money for — kind of like Bryan Adams buying his 'first beat-up six string' — and maybe that was the whole reason that I actually stuck with it."

After high school, she attended Western Washington Universitymarker for a short time, before transferring to Evergreen State Collegemarker (where Corin Tucker, Kathleen Hanna, and Tobi Vail were also students). While there, Brownstein was in the band Excuse 17. Around this time, she met Corin Tucker, who was in the band Heavens to Betsy. The two bands toured together and both contributed to the Free to Fight compilation. They formed Sleater-Kinney as a side project, and released the Free to Fight split single with Cypher in the Snow.

In 1997, she graduated from Evergreen State with a degree in sociolinguistics, and stayed in Olympia for three years before moving to Portland, Oregon.

Music career

After both Excuse 17 and Heavens to Betsy split up, Sleater-Kinney became Brownstein and Tucker's main focus. They recorded their first self-titled album during a trip to Australia in early 1994, where the couple were celebrating Tucker's graduation from Evergreen (Brownstein still had three years of college left). It was released the following spring. They recorded and toured with different drummers, until Janet Weiss joined the band in 1996. Following their eponymous debut, they released six more critically acclaimed albums before going on indefinite hiatus in 2006.

Writing career

Brownstein began a career as a writer before Sleater-Kinney broke up. She interviewed Eddie Vedder, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Karen O, and Cheryl Hines for The Believer magazine. Brownstein has also written a couple of music-related video game reviews for Slate.

Since November 2007 Brownstein has written a blog for NPR Music called "Monitor Mix". Brownstein says of the blog, "My hopes for Monitor Mix are that it will be descriptive as opposed to merely prescriptive. I would rather discuss and examine what it is that people actually consume than to tell you what you should be listening to."

Side projects

After the band broke up, Brownstein briefly worked at Portland ad agency Wieden+Kennedy, helping them review applicants for their WK12 program of one-year internships.

Brownstein created The Spells with Mary Timony, who released one EP titled The Age of Backwards.

Brownstein has been an actress (in what she calls a "mere hobby"),, with a role in the short film Fan Mail, as well as Group and the Miranda July film Getting Stronger Everyday. Brownstein and Fred Armisen have published several video skits as part of a comedy duo called "ThunderAnt". She also starred opposite James Mercer of The Shins in the 2009 independent film Some Days Are Better Than Others.

Personal life

Jewish Woman magazine said Brownstein is Jewish, thought she doesn't "seem to be very 'out' as [a] Jew."

Brownstein was outed to her family and the world by Spin when she was 21 years old. The article discussed the fact that she had dated band mate Corin Tucker in the beginning of Sleater-Kinney (the song "One More Hour" is about their breakup). After the article was out, she said, "I hadn't seen it [the Spin article], and I got a phone call. My dad called me and was like, 'The Spin article's out. Um, do you want to let me know what's going on?' The ground was pulled out from underneath me... My dad did not know that Corin and I had ever dated, or that I even dated girls." By 2006, The New York Times identified her as "openly gay."


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